Transformation of political elite in Azerbaijan

Ataşer, Gökhan Alper
This thesis explores the transformation of political elite in the context of post-Soviet authoritarian consolidation. The study is primarily based on semi-structured in-depth interviews and field findings are evaluated within a theoretical and historical framework. A common characteristic of many post-Soviet regimes is their reliance on hybrid regimes. By not rejecting democratic principles and practices altogether, these regimes differ from classical authoritarian regimes of the past century. In the case of Azerbaijan hybrid regime is associated with regional networks, patronage, and strict control of elite by controlling information flows. The changes and continuities between the rules of Heydar Aliyev, the founder of the authoritarian system and his successor Ilham Aliyev in terms of the structure and functioning of elite are also among the findings. While securing state authority was a priority during Heydar Aliyev, democratic rights and freedoms were relatively advanced despite the fact that democracy was not a part of the discourse. During Ilham Aliyev, monopoly of power was secured, but these rights and freedoms were severely curtailed despite the democratic discourse. Occasional changes of cadre occurring within the ruling elite serve authoritarian rule rather than representing a democratizing dynamic. Consequently, hybrid regime is characterized by a hybrid elite. In accordance with the elite theories, the primary role of the elite in defining the political system is affirmed. Political transformation is an elite-led processes, but this study also acknowledges that their construction can be better understood in the background of historical experiences.
Citation Formats
G. A. Ataşer, “Transformation of political elite in Azerbaijan,” Thesis (Ph.D.) -- Graduate School of Social Sciences. Sociology., Middle East Technical University, 2020.